Sun dog in the sky

Sundogs: Rainbows Beside the Sun

sun dog in the sky

Sun dogs in the sky - parhelia compilation

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A sundog — a piece of a larger halo around the sun or moon — is caused by tiny ice crystals in the upper air. Karl Diefenderfer captured this sundog on March 6, , in the skies over Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sometimes only the sundogs are visible. Les Cowley, who lives in the UK and creates the great website Atmospheric Optics , publishes many photos of halos created by the sun and moon. He has this to say about them on his page about Frequent Halos :. Halos appear in our skies far more often than do rainbows. They can be seen on average twice a week in Europe and parts of the United States.

Before answering the why question, let me answer the what question that comes before: namely, what is a sundog, or mock Sun, in the first place? Sundogs often form in pairs on either side of our daytime star when sunlight refracts through icy clouds containing hexagonal platecrystals aligned with their large, flat faces parallel to the ground. Technically known as parhelia singular parhelion they are often white but sometimes quite colorful, looking like detached pieces of rainbow, with red on the inside, toward the Sun, and blue on the outside. As with sundogs, hexagonal ice crystals suspended in cirrostratus clouds refract sunlight to create the halo, sometimes also called an icebow, nimbus, or gloriole. Unlike sundogs, which generally only be seen when the Sun is near the horizon, the halo is visible even when the Sun is high. As to the why: There are several authoritative books and websites about atmospheric phenomena, but none of the ones I checked say anything about why parhelia are called sundogs. My guess is their authors are cat people.

Patches of light that sometimes appear beside the sun are called sundogs.
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What's that bright orb up in the sky? Yes, it's probably the Sun. But if it has been cloudy for days on end, especially during a rainy spring, the sudden appearance of the Sun can seem like a celestial mystery. Even more mysterious is the appearance of bright, colorful patches of light on each side of the Sun. No need to get your eyes checked, though, you were probably just seeing sun dogs. Sun dogs don't bark , and they don't wag their tails.



Dogs and Weather—Sun Dogs

A sun dog or sundog or mock sun , formally called a parhelion [1] plural parhelia in meteorology , is an atmospheric optical phenomenon that consists of a bright spot to one or both sides of the Sun. The sun dog is a member of the family of halos , caused by the refraction of sunlight by ice crystals in the atmosphere.

What is a Sundog, and How Did “Sundogs” Get Their Name?

A sundog or sun dog is a bright, rainbow-colored patch of light that occurs on either side of the Sun when it is low on the horizon, for example, just after sunrise or just prior to sunset. Sometimes a pair of sundogs will appear -- one on the Sun's left, and another on the Sun's right. When these same bright spots occur at night around the moon, they are known as moondogs. Moondogs typically only occur when the bright light of a full moon or nearly-full moon is available. It isn't exactly clear where the term "sundog" originated, but the fact that these optical events "sit" beside the sun like a loyal dog attends its owner likely has something to do with it.

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What Is a Sun Dog?

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